ELIGIBILITY: The first step is disagreeing with a decision about benefits, child maintenance, or tax credits. If that happens, you must follow all the correct steps for challenging benefit decisions.
Asking for a decision to get looked at again is the process of ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
Not all benefits decisions can get reconsidered. The original decision letter will state whether it can get challenged.
As a rule, you would be eligible to challenge a benefit decision if any of these apply to your dispute:
- You believe the office dealing with the claim made an error or missed an important piece of evidence.
- You disagree with the reasons behind the decision.
- You want to have the office look over their decision once more.
Note: There is a deadline to ask for mandatory reconsideration. You must request it by phone or by letter within one (1) month of the decision date.
Benefits Related to Mandatory Reconsideration
The full list of benefits that apply to a valid disagreement or challenge made by a claimant include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Carer’s Credit
- Child maintenance (also called ‘child support’)
- Compensation Recovery Scheme (including NHS recovery claims)
- Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme
- Disability Living Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Funeral Expenses Payment
- Income Support
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Maternity Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Universal Credit
- Winter Fuel Payment
Asking a Benefits Office for a Mandatory Reconsideration
The next step is telephoning the particular benefits office that issued the decision. Tell them that you are asking for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ as part of a benefit challenge.
You can also make the same kind of request using the mandatory reconsideration form online or by letter. Use the address details on the decision letter if you write to them.
Note: You must ask for the reconsideration within one (1) month of the date stamped on the decision letter. So, you must make sure a letter arrives before then – if you are writing to them. Contact the benefits office if you did not get a decision letter.
Before asking for Mandatory Reconsideration
The benefits office can also help if you do not know what evidence to produce. They can give you advice if you are unsure of whether to ask for mandatory reconsideration. The staff can also explain the reason behind the benefit decision.
Discussing it with the staff does not affect your rights to challenge a benefit decision. You can still decide to ask for a mandatory reconsideration afterwards.
Getting an Explanation in Writing
The benefits office that handles each claim can provide a written explanation of their decision. Ask the staff for a ‘written statement of reasons‘ if you want to get one. The benefits decision letter will already include a written statement of reasons if you are challenging a decision on PIP.
You still have the right to ask for a mandatory reconsideration afterwards. But, you must make a request within fourteen (14) days of the date stamped on the ‘written statement of reasons’.
Asking for Mandatory Reconsideration after 1 Month
You need a valid reason to ask for a mandatory reconsideration after the one month deadline. Typical reasons might be a period spent in hospital or a family bereavement. Phone the number on the decision letter first to explain the reason for making a late request.
Information Needed to Challenge a Benefit Decision
You will need to provide some personal information when challenging a benefits decision, including:
- Your name, full address, and date of birth.
- Your National Insurance number.
- The date when the original benefit decision got made.
- An explanation of the part you think is wrong and why.
Sending New Evidence for Reconsideration
If you provide any evidence it must show why the benefit decision got made in error. So, you might send evidence such as:
- Some new medical evidence.
- Reports or care plans from a specialist, a therapist, or a nurse.
- Bank statements or payslips.
Each piece of evidence you send should have your full name, date of birth, and NI number written at the top. Send it to the same benefit office where you first applied for the benefit.
Note: It should only be ‘new’ evidence that was not sent before. If you need to pay for the evidence you cannot claim it back.
Sending certain types of information and ‘evidence’ does not help the claim, such as:
- Appointment cards or letters about medical appointments. An exception may apply if being at the ‘appointment’ is the reason why you were unable to claim the benefit.
- General information about your condition (e.g. sick notes, factsheets, or medical certificates).
- Letters relating to tests that you are due to undergo.
Mandatory Reconsideration Notice
The final step is for the same benefits office to reconsider the previous decision they gave you. The ‘Mandatory Reconsideration Notice‘ tells you whether they changed their decision. It also explains the reasons behind their final decision and the evidence it got based on.
Note: Asking for a mandatory reconsideration can affect your benefit payments. In some cases, they may go up, go down, stay the same, or stop altogether.
Disagreeing with a Mandatory Reconsideration Outcome
You may feel the outcome of the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice is still wrong. If so, you can make an appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.
This kind of tribunal operates independent of the government. That means a judge will listen to both sides of the dispute or argument. The judge will then make a final decision.
Note: You must get a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice before making an appeal. As a rule, you must lodge an appeal within one (1) month of getting the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.